Food. It's such an important part of every trip. Everyone asks me how the food was in Japan. I always hesitate before answering. The food in Japan, I've found, can be delicious! And it can also be quite average. Like any other country, really, it's hit or miss. Mostly though, it was a hit! Especially the local places that weren't overly touristy. They were the places my bestie and I found to serve the best food!
On a cold, wet night, we braved the rain and ran to this local, extremely packed restaurant. It was so "Japanese" if you can call it that. It was loud, it was crowded, it was alive! We sat down on a bench with four others squished in, drinking beer and eating their yakitori. We unabashedly gawked at everyone's food like the tourists that we were and felt brave enough to ask what was the most popular dish on the menu. The fried squid was promptly brought to us, along with some braised pork in a salty broth. Delicious!
Unfortunately for us, our friend Shin whom we had known since we were the young age of 16 was out of town while we were in Tokyo but he asked his friend to take care of us! His friend Yuuki took us to this great local underground restaurant not far from a train station. It's one of those hidden gems that seems like only locals go to! I wish I could remember where this was but I cannot for the life of me recall it.
The menu was beautifully written in Japanese calligraphy
Suzune, also known as sparkling Sake! Delicious! I've been trying to find it in Perth since coming back, but to little avail. I might just have to get it imported.
Mentaiko - marinated roe of pollock. It was so salty! It is the perfect snack with beers. Don't make the mistake we did and make sure you eat small bits at a time!
Japanese sake poured in the traditional way. The sake is supposed to overflow onto the little plate.
Raw squid - so fresh and so good!
And soba to finish off the meal. There was just too much food!
On another occasion, we met up with my friend Steven, whom I met during my year in South Korea. We popped into a small sushi shop just on the side of the street of Shibuya and stood around the counter.You choose what you want from the menu and the chef prepares it for you, right before your eyes. It was fresh, it was cheap, it was delicious! And also, there was free flow green tea!
Green tea in Japan is the best!
Delicious Unagi (eel)! We were so lucky to find this place!
Cooking our own okonomiyaki (Japanese "pizza")
Ready to eat!
A festival going on!
Takoyaki - octopus balls
When food is involved, smiles are from ear to ear!
Udon in Japan is the best!
Chinese food in Japan - Our last meal before leaving for the airport!
One thing I will never forget about Japanese food is the fresh wasabi! Not knowing any better, I've never been a fan of wasabi. That green paste that shoots pain up your nose - not my cup of tea. But the moment fresh wasabi was introduced to me, I was a changed woman. Fresh wasabi is pleasantly fragrant and not overly strong but still gives you a punch full of flavour. Oh, the difference between the commercial stuff and the real stuff! It's something you have to try if ever you're in Japan!
Under the recommendation of a friend's friend, we went to Gonpachi in Roppongi, apparently a remarkable restaurant in Tokyo. The entrance of the restaurant was delightful with a stone path weaving through a wildly planned garden. Lights twinkled in the quickly darkening sky as we walked upwards towards the restaurant. It was like a little spot of quiet on the corner of two very busy roads.
Upon arriving at the top of the path, we found it difficult to find the entrance. In the end, we walked up to the second level and entered a sliding door. We spoke in Japanese to a man who was standing at the entrance that we had a reservation. He then rudely told us that we had entered the sushi area and ordered us to go downstairs. I class this as appalling service and we were not impressed.
Personally, I found the food at Gonpachi very mediocre but the service was good, with a lovely English speaking waitress who was very attentive. The layout and ambiance of the restaurant was quite impressive albeit slightly too dark for my liking. It was an experience and we enjoyed our sparkling sake after the wonderful discovery whilst dining with our friend Yuuki.
We ordered bottle after bottle of this! Yum!
If I had to rate this restaurant, I would most defiitely give it a 2 out of 5 stars. For the price that we paid, the food was way too average, the experience was not worth the trek and lighting was a little on the dim side. Still, the Suzune definitely made up for all the lackings of restaurant!
Before we went to Japan, we definitely did a lot of searching online to make sure we found the best Japanese restaurants to dine in but what we found over the two weeks was that the best places were the ones we stumbled across during the day. The food always turned out to be fantastic and we were constantly impressed!